Thursday, 06 May 2021

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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Barcelona spurned the chance to go top of the table on Thursday as a shock 2-1 defeat by Granada added another twist to La Liga’s most unpredictable title race in years.

Barca could have taken control at the top by moving a point ahead of Atletico Madrid but Granada came from behind to snatch a stunning win at Camp Nou, in what will be a huge boost to the other title contenders.

Lionel Messi scored his 33rd goal of the season to put Barcelona in front but they failed to put the result beyond doubt and Granada hit back, Darwin Machis driving in and Jorge Molina’s header completing a remarkable turnaround.

Defeat means Barca took nothing from their game in hand except disappointment, which might be difficult to shake ahead of two crunch games now away at Valencia and at home to Atletico Madrid.

They stay third, level on points with Real Madrid, as Atletico retain their two-point advantage at the top, while Sevilla in fourth remain just three points off first.

Any of the four contenders could be crowned champions next month, with all of the top three squandering opportunities to take the lead in the last week.

Real Madrid were held to a goalless draw by Real Betis on Saturday before Atletico failed to take advantage as they were beaten by Athletic Bilbao.

Those results opened the door to Barcelona, but now they too have stumbled.

Granada’s victory adds another significant chapter to what has been an incredible season for Diego Martinez’s side, who reached the Europa League quarter-finals earlier this month only to be beaten by Manchester United.

They close to within five points of Villarreal, with European qualification not yet out of sight.

It started well for Barcelona, who pulled in front in the 23rd minute, a delightful turn and pass by Antoine Griezmann allowing Messi to drive into the far corner from the angle.

The chances were there for a second, the best of them falling to Sergi Roberto, who volleyed over a cut-back from Frenkie de Jong, but Granada remained in touch.

Roberto Soldado might have equalised had he not opted to pass instead of shoot and then Marchis did, latching onto a superb pass by Luis Suarez and finishing past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Coach Ronald Koeman was sent to the stands for his protests and Gerard Pique almost turned in a Griezmann ball to the front post, after Messi’s free-kick had spun wide off the wall.

Instead, Granada came again, more good work from Suarez in midfield allowing Adrian Marin to cross into the box, where Molina did brilliantly to dip his head and glance the ball into the far corner.

Posted On Friday, 30 April 2021 01:36 Written by

Manchester United’s players have been nothing if not consistent in the semifinals of major tournaments over the past year and a half

Manchester United’s players have been nothing if not consistent in the semifinals of major tournaments over the last year and a half.

They have played in four, and they have lost in four.

No. 5 is coming up on Thursday when Roma visits Old Trafford for the first leg of the Europa League semifinals and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has reason to believe this time will be different.

“The players have had another year, they’re more experienced and they’ve come through some difficult times,” the United manager said. “And with the motivation of having those disappointments, I’m confident we’ll get a good performance.”

And it was a familiar story in January, when United was beaten 2-0 by City in a League Cup semifinal rematch.

The opponents have been tough, no doubt, but that hasn’t stopped United from collecting a reputation of choking on the big occasion under Solskjaer, who is still awaiting his first trophy since taking over as manager as the replacement for Jose Mourinho in December 2018.

Solskjaer has analyzed each of the losses in the semifinals and hasn’t spotted an obvious reason why United keeps falling short, except for the quality of the opposition.

Roma, which is seventh in Serie A, is probably the weakest team United has faced in this run of last-four meetings and Solskjaer insisted Wednesday he meant no disrespect when he said about the Italian team after the win over Granada in the quarterfinals: “I’ve not seen too much of them.”

Roma fans are using the words as ammunition for their team — posters have been put up around the city of Solskjaer, along with those comments — but the United manager downplayed it and said Roma was a “fantastic club with a great history.”

“I’ve actually got two prized possessions back home, a Totti shirt and a De Rossi shirt that I’ve swapped with them,” he said, referring to two of the greatest players in Roma’s modern history, Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi. “They’re actually signed, so I know about the history, I know about the quality.”

It is a rather fraught time at United, with fans protesting against the club’s ownership — the Glazer family — for its involvement in the plan to hatch a European Super League. That was quickly abandoned last week, but anti-Glazer sentiment has been reignited and it was put to Solskjaer that the achievement of winning the Europa League would be devalued in a sense because United’s owners don’t appear to care about the competition.

“I’ve had a very good relationship with the owners and with the club. They’ve employed me as manager, they listen to my views,” he said. “It’s my job to give my opinion and do the best for the club and for them.

“I’ve had so many years at the club, I’m looking forward to trying to bring success to the team. That’s my focus. Bringing fans, players and the club together.”

Posted On Wednesday, 28 April 2021 16:55 Written by
One of the Greenfield University students killed by the kidnappers, Dorathy Tirnom Yohanna.
One of the Greenfield University students killed by the kidnappers, Dorathy Tirnom Yohanna.
Posted On Friday, 23 April 2021 21:27 Written by

By Chris Njoku, Owerri/ THE NATION

Southeast governors yesterday launched a regional security outfit codenamed Ebube Agu (the glory of a tiger) to battle rising insecurity.

They restated that open grazing remained banned and urged security agencies to enforce it.

The governors met in Owerri, the Imo State capital, with heads of security agencies in the region.

Acting Inspector-General Usman Baba sent a delegation comprising a Deputy Inspector-General and an Assistant Inspector-General.

The meeting was to evaluate the security situation and to strategise on how to tackle it.

Last Monday, gunmen attacked the police headquarters and the correctional centre in Owerri, setting 38 vehicles ablaze and freeing 1,844 inmates.

Police stations have come under attack in the five Southeast states, with many officers killed.

At the meeting were governors Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Willie Obiano (Anambra) and Imo State Hope Uzodimma, who was the host.

The governors condemned the attacks on police stations, correctional facility, and the unlawful release of inmates.

They said a committee made up of security personnel, government officials and relevant stakeholders will be set up to coordinate and monitor the implementation of Ebube Agu, with headquarters in Enugu.

The governors urged the IG to invite the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) “to find out the reason for increasing insecurity in the Southeast”.

They resolved to bring together all the arsenals at their command to fight and flush out criminals and terrorist from the zone.

They promised to back security agencies with all they need to make the onslaught against criminals successful.

Umahi, flanked by his brother — governors and the security chiefs, read a 15 – point communique of their resolution.

They resolved “to strongly and unequivocally condemn terrorism and banditry in any part of Nigeria, particularly in the Southeast.

“The meeting strongly condemns the burning of police stations, violent attacks on custodial centres with the unlawful release of inmates, and the killings, including security personnel, natives/ farmers and headsmen.

“The five Southeast states are on the same page with the Federal Government on the issue of security challenges in the country.

“To this end, the meeting makes it absolutely clear that the Southeast will stand resolutely with the Federal Government to fight terrorists and bandits to a finish.

“The political leadership in the Southeast has resolved to bring together all the arsenals at their command, as one united zone, to fight and flush out criminals and terrorist from the zone.

“To achieve this, there is a need to galvanise all the relevant stakeholders in the Southeast, the political class, the business community, the bureaucrats and the intelligentsia to provide all necessary support to security operatives in the five Southeast states to ensure total success in the fight against criminality in the zone.

“The heads of all the security agencies in the Southeast have resolved to exchange intelligence in a seamless, effective new order that will help to checkmate crime in the zone.”

To fast track crime-busting in the region, the governors mandated the heads of security agencies “to draw up a comprehensive list of their logistics and material needs for sustainable success in the fight against criminality for the immediate provision by the leadership of the Southeast”.

The communique adds: “The meeting resolved to maintain a joint security vigilante for the Southeast, otherwise known as Ebube Agu…to coordinate our vigilante in the Southeast.”

The governors requested the Acting IG to stop the influx of IG monitoring units but to allow commissioners of police and state and zonal commands to handle their cases.

“Meeting approves that the acting IG and other security chiefs do invite the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and CAN to find out the reason for increasing insecurity of the SouthEast.

“The meeting agreed that military policing in the Southeast should be adequately funded and become effective.

“The meeting agreed that open grazing has been banned and security agencies should implement the ban.

“The meeting encouraged a peaceful coexistence of farmers and herders to allow governors to succeed in the fight against criminality.”

Posted On Monday, 12 April 2021 16:32 Written by

By Nicholas Kalu, Abuja/ THE NATION

A suspected drug trafficker, Okonkwo Chimezie Henry, has excreted 113 wraps of cocaine weighing 1.750 kg with a street value of N423 million.

This followed his arrest at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja, Lagos on Easter Day, Sunday, 4th April, 2021, where he was headed for Madrid, Spain.

Director, Media and Advocacy, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Headquarters, Abuja, Femi Babafemi, disclosed this in a statement in Abuja yesterday.

The statement reads, “Okonkwo was about boarding a Turkish Airline flight number TK0626 at about 8pm when he was apprehended at screening 2 point and taken into custody by the NDLEA operatives at the Lagos airport. He was subsequently put under observation at the JBTF/NDLEA facility for further investigation.

“Twenty four hours after putting him under excretion observation, the suspect, who has been living in Spain for 10 years, excreted 39 wraps of cocaine and subsequently passed out a total of 113 wraps in five excretions. Further investigation reveals he ingested the illicit drug in a hotel in the Igando area of Lagos.”

The statement quoted the Commander, MMIA Command of the NDLEA, Ahmadu Garba, as saying, “the suspect excreted 39 wraps weighing 600 grammes at 9.58am on April 5; 13 wraps weighing 200 grammes at 6.30pm same day; 16 wraps weighing 250 grammes at 10.30pm same day; and 32 wraps weighing 500 grammes at 7.30am on April 6.”

Babafemi said operatives at the airport also intercepted a 2.8kg of skunk meant for Dubai in UAE through Emirate Airline.

“The illicit drug was concealed in crayfish, bitter leaves and melons packaged in a sack but was recovered at the SAHCO export shed of the MMIA, he said.

Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the NDLEA, Brig. General Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd), in his reaction commended officers and men of the MMIA Command for not allowing criminal elements take advantage of the Easter holiday to further their illicit trade, and dent Nigeria’s image abroad.

Posted On Saturday, 10 April 2021 20:45 Written by

By Faith Yahaya and Frank Ikpefan, Abuja/ THE NATION

The Federal Government on Friday stated work would soon begin on some selected rail projects for which contracts have been awarded.

The government listed some of the rail projects to include the Ibadan-Kano, Port Harcourt Maiduguri, Kano-Maradi and Lagos-Calabar rail lines.

Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, disclosed this while speaking in Abuja at the annual ministerial briefing on programmes, projects and activities of the Federal Ministry of Transportation and its agencies.

He was joined at the briefing by Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki.

The Minister said government has solved the financial problems associated with the rail projects.

Amaechi said: “We have awarded the following contracts and we are about to start and we have even tried to solve the financial problems. This is because we have the problem of having to hire consulting engineers.

“The ones we are about to start are Ibadan to Kano, that we are waiting for funds from China.

“We are about to start Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, we are waiting for the cabinet to approve consulting shares. We are also to start the Kano-Maradi and Lagos to Calabar.”

He added: “But one thing that is unique about these contracts is that the President early enough directed that all rail lines must stagnate at the sea ports.

“That is why there may be a bit of adjustment in the pricing of Kano-Maradi because we have to adjust it to link up to Kano-Lagos so that it can terminate at Lagos seaport.”

Amaechi said the 185.5km Lagos-Ibadan double standard gauge line with extension to Apapa seaport was nearing completion while the 186km Abuja-Kaduna and 302km Warri-Itakpe standard guage lines had been completed and were functional.

He frowned at the ticket racketeering perpetuated by some employees of the Nigeria Railway Corporation and directed the management of the NRC to deal decisively with anyone found culpable.

Amaechi, however, stated that with the introduction of the online ticketing system on the Abuja-Kaduna train service, the NRC had been able to raise its earnings by about N50m after deducting its operational cost.

On the refund of loan, the Minister said the government had “paid a total sum of N420.46m into the escrow account from revenue received from Abuja-Kaduna train services over the period of the ERGP (Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017-2020).”

Posted On Friday, 09 April 2021 17:05 Written by

By Ekaete Bassey/ THE NATION

In the recently published Forbes 100 Innovations, Inventions and Icons from Africa list is

Social media users have reacted to the award-winning singer, Davido topping Forbes 100 Innovations, Inventions, and Icons Africa list.

The Nation had earlier reported eleven notable Nigerians made Forbes 2021 Africa Icons’ list.

Among them Davido, who has been described as one of the most influential artists in Africa.

Forbes tweeted: “@Davido remains the Biggest, Best and the Most Influential person in African 30/30 GOAT.”

Meanwhile, fans on social media have expressed their delight with pride stating he remains the best in Africa and that was why Forbes Africa had to make him number one on their list.

@_Oyebolanle tweeted: “It’s #Davido topping Forbes African Icons of 2020 for me. Ori Ade Baba Imade.”

@symplyDAPO tweeted: “Even Ellen knows what’s up. The highlights of today goes to Ellen holding #davido “A Better Time” album.”

@Rozapepper said: “The Global Sensation – Davido, Tops the list of Forbes Africa Icons’ 2021 list. No Denial, Davido has been a real supporter of Young Upcoming Artistes in Africa. He is an inspiration to many young African artistes. Congrats King Davido #30BG.”

@AMMESOMATADO stated: “The social distancing Davido gave his mates on that Africa Forbes list is top-notch.”

@DeraNwako tweeted: “Just an early reminder that @davido is still the Biggest Artiste in Africa. Number 001 on Forbes 2021 Africa ICONS List. When I say he’s the Biggest, I ain’t capping.”

@Wytemajeke said: “When Forbes said “ #davido is without no doubt one of Africa’s the biggest musicians” I felt that.”

@GramKcee tweeted: “Forbes Africa Icons’ list, 2021 1 – DAVIDO 10 – Wizkid 15 -Burnaboy Afrobeat to the world.”

@temi_ofLagos tweeted: “-Davido tops list of Most Influential African -Davido is without a doubt one of Africa’s biggest musician according to FORBES Davido and Influence.”

Posted On Thursday, 08 April 2021 18:58 Written by

By Gbenga Omokhunu, Abuja/ THE NATION

The outgoing Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu has handed over to his successor Usman Alkali Baba.

The ceremony took place at the Force Headquarters, Abuja.

He handed over after Vice President Yemi Osinbajo decorated Baba with his new rank in the State House, Abuja.

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8 things to know about new IGP Usman Alkali Baba

By Alao Abiodun/ THE NATION

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday announced DIG Usman Alkali Baba as acting Inspector-General of Police (IGP).

According to the Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi, the appointment takes immediate effect.

The Yobe born Police chief has held several strategic positions in the past.

Here are few things to know about the acting IGP:

1. Usman Alkali was born on 1st March, 1963.

2. He hails from Geidam in Yobe State and has had meritorious years in the force.

3. He has also served in various capacities such as DIG Force CID and was also the Force Secretary at the Force Headquarters, Abuja.

4. He has served in various commands including Kaduna as the Deputy Commissioner, Administration; He was in FCT as the Deputy Commissioner, Investigation and was also in the staff college as a directing staff.

5. He was in Ilorin as an Area Commander. He was the second-in-command in Ebonyi, He was also an Assistant Commissioner, CID in Kaduna and before then was DPO (Divisional Police Officer) in various places like Yola, Gombe, Kaduna, and Jos.

6. He holds a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) Degree from the University of Maiduguri, Borno State 1997 and a BA (ED) Political Science from Bayero University, Kano State as well as Professional Courses/Workshop Institution.

Posted On Wednesday, 07 April 2021 15:47 Written by

By Koforowola Belo-Osagie/ THE NATION

The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) has released the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) for private candidates, 2021 – First Series.

Head of the Nigeria National Office, WAEC, Mr Patrick Areghan, told reporters on Tuesday the examination was primarily designed to help candidates seeking admission to tertiary institutions to reduce the waiting time for results and beat admission deadlines.

He said: “The analysis of the statistics of the performance of candidates shows that out of the Seven Thousand Two Hundred and Eighty-Nine (7,289) candidates that sat the examination:

“Two Thousand Nine Hundred and Thirty-Eight (2,938) candidates representing 40.31 per cent obtained credit and above in a minimum of any five subjects (with or without English Language and/or Mathematics; out of which One Thousand Three Hundred and Ninety-Six (1,396) were male and One Thousand five Hundred and Forty-Two (1,542) were female candidates, representing 47.52%and 52.48 % respectively;

“Two Thousand One Hundred and Ninety-Five (2,195) candidates representing 30.11 per cent obtained credits and above in a minimum of five (5) subjects, including English Language and Mathematics.

“Of this number, One Thousand and Seventy-Four (1,074) i.e. 48.93 per cent were male candidates, while One Thousand, One Hundred and Twenty-One (1,121) i.e. 51.07 per cent were female candidates. The percentage of candidates in this category in the WASSCE for Private Candidates, 2019 and 2020, that is, those who obtained credit and above in a minimum of five subjects, including English Language and Mathematics, were 26.08 per cent and 32.23 per cent respectively. Thus, there is a marginal decrease of 2.12 per cent in performance in this regards.”

Posted On Tuesday, 06 April 2021 19:31 Written by

Zinedine Zidane believes Real Madrid is being underrated ahead of the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Liverpool on Tuesday.

Madrid has endured a patchy season but remains alive in the Champions League and La Liga, with the gap to Atletico Madrid down to three points with nine games left.

And if they can overcome Liverpool, they will have a semi-final to come against either Chelsea or Porto and be within sight of a 14th European triumph.

“I think my team has been underestimated,” said Zidane in a press conference on Monday. “I trust my team a lot and I know what it can give. But we can’t change what people think. We can only work day by day and while there is still a chance, we never give up.

“We are going to fight for everything. We have had difficult moments this season and now we are better but it doesn’t mean anything tomorrow.”

Zidane raised the possibility of Eden Hazard being involved in the first leg in Madrid on Tuesday, even though the Belgian has missed the last three weeks with a pelvic injury. Hazard trained at Valdebebas on Monday morning.

“We have talked a lot about this, Hazard has to be calm. The important thing is that he has recovered,” said Zidane. “If the player is well, I want him with the team. We are going to do things little by little and we’ll see what happens.”

Madrid will be without their captain Sergio Ramos, who injured his calf on international duty last month with Spain.

Ramos played a key role as Real Madrid beat Liverpool in the Champions League final in 2018 after his challenge forced Mohamed Salah to be substituted in the first half.

“I know Sergio, he is a teammate, a friend,” said Madrid defender Nacho Fernandez. “It’s a shame, nobody likes to be injured in moments as important as this and even more so when you know Sergio, who is the captain.

“I’m sure that not just Salah but everyone from Liverpool will want to take revenge and win the game, just like us.”

Liverpool bounced back from their defeat in Kiev by winning the Champions League and Premier League over the next two seasons but, like Madrid, they have wavered since, falling behind Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

“We don’t think about the past,” said Zidane. “It’s a big game for them and it’s a different game from the final in Kiev. We’re preparing for a different game.”

“We are at a club where every day, every minute we live with pressure,” added Nacho. “We know how to handle it, we try to use it in the best possible way, which is to lift a trophy at the end of the season.”

Posted On Monday, 05 April 2021 14:32 Written by
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